The large number of issues, research findings and de-
velopments presented provides a good idea of how
complex tyre technology already is these days.
Optimally incorporating all the different requirements in
one tyre is really very much like trying to square the
circle. That’s because improving certain features such
as safety and comfort runs almost contrary to other de-
sirable characteristics. The best possible grip is needed,
for instance, to achieve true running and short braking
distances. However, this leads to greater rolling resistance,
with the undesirable effect of higher fuel consumption.
Add factors such as the desire for comfort, perform-
ance, low wear, robustness and recyclability to the
equation and the kind of challenges facing tyre technology
in the future soon become clear.
Political pressure on the automobile industry, and thus
also on the tyre manufacturers, is growing. One issue –
which has long since been a high priority in the auto-
mobile industry – was common to all the speeches:
sustainability. The wheel plays an essential role in the
efforts of automobile manufacturers to build ever more
environmentally friendly vehicles. All the participants
were in agreement on this fact. A growing number of
states are introducing energy and environment labels
like those commonly found on household appliances,
buildings and also vehicles. In many countries, tyres
are already classified according to parameters such as
handling, braking distances in the wet, rolling resistance
and rolling noise.
The automobile manufacturers’ own research and de-
velopment activities show the importance they attach
to enhancing the tyre in the context of their overall
strategies. Ford, for instance, has set up its own research
team solely dedicated to tyre development as part of its
sustainability offensive. Dave Klekamp is head of this
team at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, USA. The
insight into the work of his team, which he afforded
those attending the ‘Science meets Tires’ conference,
will have been surprising for one or two listeners. When
developing tyres, Ford carries out in-depth studies in
areas where one would usually only expect research
institutes or the R&D departments of the major tyre
manufacturers to operate. Klekamp’s team looks at
As hosts, they provided the perfect framework for the event: Prof. Christian Hopman from the IKV (left) and Prof. Lutz Eckstein from the IKA.
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